Monday, September 19, 2011

My First QR Codes Activity

You probably have used QR Codes in your classroom for a while now.  In my particular case, well, I am starting to technifying my classroom so this was my first experience with this technology.  I am proud of myself since I came up with this activity all by myself.  This does not mean of course that nobody has done it before;  it´s just that I have not heard of.

Here´s how it worked:

Grade: 11th (In my country´s school system, eleventh grade is Senior Year.)
Subject: Chemistry
Topic: Stoichiometry

The class was split into teams of four.  The teams were necessary considering that not all of my students have a smartphone.  I gave every student a set of approximately 45 exercises.  Now, we all know how counterproductive it is to have kids do all that kind of work (let alone Chemistry exercises...)  Each team were given five QR codes.  Each QR code contain a number of exercise the team was supposed to solve together.  Now, usually worksheets include exercises with different levels of difficulty.  So, the idea was that every team would get a random number of exercise to work on.

Initially I had typed the exercises into the QR codes, but they were too stuffed and most phones could not "crack" it.  So, I decided to go with the number of the exercise instead.  I had to add the playful touch to the activity, so this is what I did.  The five QR codes I gave every team included two types:

-Three QR codes with the number of the exercise to be solved only.
-Two QR codes with two options: 1. The number of the exercise to be solved. 2. An optional activity.

This optional activities included things such as:

-Make a little choreography in front of the classroom.

-Sleep on the floor for 30 seconds.

-Lift up your bare feet up in the air for 30 seconds.

-Sing a group song in front of the class.

-Crawl in tandem from one end of the classroom to the other.
-Scream: "My Chemistry teacher is the best!" :)
-Spit on your hand and shake one team-member´s hand.  (Eww, there was a team of guys who actually did this!)

All these activities were so engaging and kids really had fun.  On the next class, the exercises solved were discussed at the board.  If you would like to perform this activity at your own classroom, please consider the following recommendations, based on my own experience.:

1. Give them a QR code one at a time.  I delivered all the five at once; one of the girls on a team just scanned them all and copied instructions on a piece of paper.  This pretty much takes away the fun, doesn´t it?

2. As with the playful activity, you must assign a long class time for an activity that would normally take you little time (Don't give them ten QR codes for them to solve in an 80 min class period!).  Remember that the whole class stops when a team decides to go up front and sing a song or make a choreography.  You must have pretty good class-management skills.  Plus, consider that some students might loose their concentration if they make a halt on what they were doing, especially with mathematical problems.

3. When generating QR codes, you will notice that those that contain little information look quite different from those that have a lot of it.  So, my students could tell just by looking at the code, which one included an optional activity.  To avoid this, try to include more info on the code that only has the exercise number.  Instead of just writing: "Solve exercise #3 (5.75 g)", try "You must solve exercise number 3, the answer to this exercise is 5.75 g.  Remember to show a clear procedure and follow rules for significant digits."

4. It may happen that a team gets five codes with an optional activity in them.  If they decide to make all the optional activities instead of the exercises, well the learning or assessing experience would round to zero!  I suggest you not risk it and somehow mark those codes you know have an optional activity.  It could be a little almost invisible dot on the back.   But if you want to add to the fun and place all QR codes in a bucket or a box and have kids randomly pick, then consider including alternate activities that you think students will not likely do (like the spitting on the hand) along with the ones they would definitely do (like taking a 30-second nap on the floor).  You must consider some statistical aspects here depending on the size of your group in such a way that each teams gets to do at least three exercises.

After performing the activity I got some feedback from students through Edmodo and Twitter.  Let me share them with you:

 It was interesting and also very creative instead of you writing on the board for us to copy, it was much better to use smart phones.. Also that way I could tell my parents I need one... 
 I liked that activity!!! It was different and interesting! I liked taking my socks off!! 
It was very good because it was dynamic; that way we don't get stuck in the same things.... I'll ask for a smartphone & you'll hear my dad's answer tomorrow hahaha 
 It was fun I liked a lot this activity, because it make the class more interesting.  
 I'm still thinking if normal people make things like this one :S  (One of the guys who did the hand-spitting thing.)
So, there´s my humble contribution to a 21st century classroom.  If you have any question, comments or ideas for alternate activities, please let me know.  Collaborate with me!

Be blessed!

Coming up next: Scavenger Hunt!
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